Mohammed bin Salman, the crown prince of Saudi Arabia known internationally as MBS, is showcasing stellar multinational company deals including a 50-year tax credit to relocate to the capital, Riyadh, as he seeks to rehabilitate himself as a pro-business talker after disastrous damage to his reputation. Jamal Khashoggi was killed with state approval.
However, the campaign to fill some of the 59 skyscrapers in the King Abdullah Business Park in Riyadh with headquarters for high-profile financial and corporate firms has been largely unsuccessful.
It appears that companies, including Google and Siemens, are ready to maintain their regional hubs in the UAE, despite being targeted under the initiative called Program HQ. According to a report in London Financial times. The headquarters of the program itself is part of Mohammed bin Salman’s ten-year master plan to wean the country from oil revenues, Vision2030, which also includes building a mega-entertainment city worth $ 500 billion to try to rival Dubai as a tourism hub.
Despite the failure to attract Nojoom so far, some large companies are working to increase their presence in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia by opening or expanding offices in the park.
For example, Google Cloud last month agreed with state oil company Saudi Aramco to provide infrastructure for cloud computing services, which will lead to the tech company opening its first office in the kingdom. Alibaba and Western Union have also reportedly increased their presence in the country and opened larger offices.
Influential Saudi officials have been given the difficult task of fulfilling Mohammed bin Salman’s desires by attracting companies from neighboring jurisdictions such as Dubai and Abu Dhabi. The Emirati city-states are more cosmopolitan and liberal than the ultra-conservative Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, where alcohol is still strictly prohibited, there is no semblance of Western social life, and women are second-class citizens.
Mohammed bin Salman’s response to these social and gender restrictions, which were instilled in Saudi culture influenced by Wahhabism, was to start work on a $ 500 billion tourism and entertainment city, called Neom. Neom, located 1,000 miles from Riyadh on the Red Sea, will allow forbidden Western pleasures there. The resort city will have a parallel legal system, directly headed by Mohammed bin Salman. While this is supposed to make aliens feel safe, it could have the opposite effect given its deadly reputation.
Justin Chic, co-author of Blood and oil“The biggest challenge Mohammed bin Salman faces in reshaping the Saudi economy is pushing foreign companies to invest in Saudi Arabia. Even before Khashoggi, it was the way foreign businessmen wanted to do business,” the best-selling biography of Mohammed bin Salman told The Daily Beast. “It is different from the way he wanted to deal with them. They just wanted him to give them money. He wanted them to invest in Saudi Arabia. Despite all these temptations, it did not happen.”
Shek says there are corporate concerns about the country’s ethical standards, and that the Khashoggi affair has made attracting large companies “more difficult than expected”. Even Uber, in which the Saudis have a 5.3 percent stake, condemned the state and its leadership for Khashoggi’s killing in 2018.
Mohammed bin Salman provided only symbolic hints of transparency about the killing: Eight unidentified agents were sentenced to seven to twenty years in prison for the murder of Khashoggi in a secret trial. Mohammed bin Salman was not responsible for ordering the killing, though INC And a UN investigation They both found him guilty. The Saudi authorities have never said what happened to Khashoggi’s remains after his body was severed with a bone saw at the Turkish embassy to the country.
New Oscar-winning documentary Maverick, It will make it more difficult for Saudi Arabia to continue bleaching. The film’s director, Brian Vogel, managed to gain access to the room where Khashoggi was killed, and stated that his body was likely taken to the home of the Saudi consul and cremated in a tandoori oven.
Skeik points out that even for those companies that are willing to ignore the ongoing and flagrant violations of human rights in the country, the small population in Saudi Arabia is a major factor in why many Western companies are not interested in receiving investment calls from Mohammed bin Salman, regardless of the number of taxes. . Special violations or extracts from local laws it provides.
“The only thing that cannot fix it is that despite the wealth of the country, its population is close to the size of Mexico City. Why do you want to go and build a car factory there? The local market is not big enough,” says Schick.
By understanding this demographic fate, Mohammed bin Salman is now urgently trying to attract international headquarters to fill the gap and help Saudi Arabia become a normal, tax-based economy rather than being financed by its ever-dwindling oil wealth.
For Mohammed bin Salman, achieving this transformation is now a very personal task, a task that has staked his reputation on, so the personnel departments of foreign companies are reassured that their employees will be able to rest their hair in NEOM. While Leaked strategic documents last year, Included plans for a huge satellite, glowing-in-the-dark beaches and unmanned taxis, and the truth so far is that the project is just another turbulent Saudi construction site, mired in Allegations of corruption, death and misconduct.
A Saudi resident of Saudi Arabia told The Daily Beast that after “Sheikh Dawn” in 2017, hundreds of prominent Saudi figures were arrested at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel, and in some cases were beaten and tortured until they signed confessions of corruption and handed over it was the fortunes of the government. Huge, and there was little desire to criticize Mohammed bin Salman: “A lot of people think that NEOM will be a disaster that cannot be mitigated. It looks like a city as drawn by a small child. But no one will say that. Mohammed bin Salman can throw you in Prison just for disagreeing with him. “
Shik says such criticisms are pushing Mohammed bin Salman simply to redouble his plans for success. “For Mohammed bin Salman, his legitimacy as the future king of the country is linked to the success of Vision 2030. When people criticize things like NEOM, he dives into his heels even more.”
It seems likely that any small successes in enticing tenants will be lavishly grouped as a regional victory and will be revealed during the annual investor conference of the Public Investment Fund, the sovereign wealth fund chaired by Mohammed bin Salman, set to begin January 27.
“It’s about attracting major international tenants,” said a Saudi government advisor who has seen the plans.
The incentives offered include a 50-year tax exemption, waiver of quotas for employing Saudis and guarantees of protection against future regulations.
Another source with close ties to several senior Saudis who have been imprisoned or are currently under house arrest by Mohammed bin Salman told The Daily Beast: “The Saudi royals are very accustomed to following their own style. The vast majority of people in prison or detainees do not pose threats to him; He simply cannot bear the possibility that they are different. “
The source indicates Loujain Al-Hathloul, 31, the activist who led the successful campaign to allow women to drive, was recently jailed. In December, it was announced that she would be sentenced to five years in prison. Rapha sheet? “A call for change.”
The source says, “It is not reasonable for the big American companies to ally with a system like this. They might get some bottom feeders. But the companies with a public share in the culture of elimination? They will run a mile.”